What you need to know about the application for an RSMS visa under the direct entry stream

Yes! You’ve found an employer willing to sponsor you. That’s half the battle won. Now let’s talk about getting you the visa. The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (Subclass 187) is an employer sponsored visa for those who would be working in regional Australia.

There are three streams through which you may apply for a 187 visa:

  1. Temporary Residence Transition (you’ve completed 2 years on a 457)
  2. Direct Entry stream
  3. Agreement stream (labour agreement)

The direct entry stream application skips the temporary 457 visa process and gets you straight to permanent residency. Because of this, the application is relatively more intense than it would be doing a 457 and RSMS temporary residence transition stream application in stages. It also takes longer to process than a 457 visa, but with the heat that 457 visas are getting these days, this might be the smarter and more cost effective option.


The application:

  1. Regional Certifying Body application
  2. Nomination application
  3. 187 visa application


You will need:

  • To be under 50 years of age
  • To have competent level English language ability
  • Your employment to be in a regional area
  • Skills assessment (for certain occupations)
  • To hold any licences/registrations required to perform the role

This 3 step application format is the template for all employer sponsored visas. Your employer will need to be lawfully operating, financially sound, declare and be able to demonstrate a commitment to employing local labour. The nomination application is where the sponsoring business identifies the position and nominee for that position, and the visa application assesses the applicant.




The occupation that you can be nominated in is anything that exists on a skill level 1, 2 or 3 on the ANZSCO directory. To find out if your occupation is eligible, visit ANZSCO and check the skill level attached to the occupation you are to be nominated for.

For example, a cook [351411] is defined in ANZSCO to be a skill level 3 job and is an occupation for which an applicant can be sponsored for. A kitchen hand [851311] however is a skill level 5 job and cannot be sponsored.



It is a requirement for RSMS visas that your place of work is in a regional area of Australia. Visit this page to find out which areas are classified as regional.

If your occupation involves your being present in different workplaces as part of your tasks and responsibilities, all these workplaces need to exist in regional postcode areas. Any role that demands for your frequent travel to work in places that are not within the regional postcodes will not be approved. This boundary only applies to your workplace. You could live in the city if you wanted, if you could survive all that travel!


Start up businesses

A start up business is taken to be a business that have been actively in operation for less than 12 months. Such businesses may need to work a little harder to prove the need to sponsor the applicant, but are still eligible to apply.



The 187 visa application assesses the nominee for meeting health, character and English language ability requirements and for being suitably skilled for the position they were nominated for. This involves documents such as the applicant’s curriculum vitae and work references. In some cases a skills assessment is required. To know if your occupation is one that requires a skills assessment, refer to these lists.

If you are on the list, you may be exempt if you have achieved the relevant qualifications in Australia for your occupation. So say you are a cook [351411] and you obtained an AQF Certificate III, including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or AQF Certificate IV in Australia, you would not be required to do a skills assessment. The qualifications required to get you this exemption is presented under “indicative skill level in Australia” in ANZSCO.

In the above example, if the applicant does not have 2 years of on-the-job training, the applicant must have 2 years in post-qualification experience

Read: Skills Assessments

The applicant is required to meet a competent level English language ability. They may be exempted from this should their remuneration falls within that of top income tax level. They will still be required to meet at least a function level.

Read: English tests and our reviews 

The 187 visa application can be lodged at the time the nomination application is lodged, but no later than 6 months after a nomination application has been approved.


Regional Certifying Body (RCB)

As the employer sponsored visa programme is meant to supplement the labour market and not to undercut local labour, applications must be assessed for genuinity. This assessment is carried out by a Regional Certifying Body (RCB). Different RCBs look after different areas and the RCB that you will need to gain approval from is RCB that oversees the regional area in which your workplace is located. Under Schedule A of this document, you will find a list of RCBS and the areas that they look after.

The RCB will assess the application for if:

  • there is a need for a paid employee in the nominated position within the business activities of the nominating employer
  • the nominated position cannot be filled by an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident who is living in the same local area as the nominated position
  • the terms and conditions of employment that are applicable to the nominated position will be no less favourable than the terms and conditions that are or would be provided to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident for performing equivalent work in the same workplace at the same location.

Each RCB has their own assessment requirements. It is important to visit the official website for the RCB for the area in which you will be employed to understand that RCB’s application process. For example, the RCB for Orana has an extensive and comprehensive document checklist comprising everything from business statements and organisational chart, to employment contract and remuneration surveys. In the same way, cost of applications and lead time on results vary between RCBs.

I would say this covers the tip of the iceberg and then some. Other regulations may affect the application for your RSMS visa depending on your personal circumstances, the very many different kinds of occupations around and types of workplaces. We advise you to learn as much as you can so that you can speak to your employer and tackle this visa confidently.

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